On August 13, 2018, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli laid out the Ontario government’s new plans with respect to the sale of recreational cannabis. The government announced that they will open up the sale of recreational cannabis to private retailers. They will allow these private retailers to operate physical stores while the province is solely responsible for product distribution and online sales (via Shopify). The government says they are completely out of the operation of private stores.
The PCs have centered this new approach around the pillar of public safety. Specifically, with a focus on protecting youth and eliminating the illegal market. It is worth noting that Minister Fedeli demanded that any current retailer illegally selling cannabis cease their operations. However, he did not explicitly rule out working with them if they were to become compliant.
Ontario is tracking for April 1, 2019 as the date when physical stores will be able to lawfully retail recreational cannabis. Fedeli said that if a private retailer is caught selling cannabis to a minor (even once) their license will be revoked.
The Finance Minister said that municipalities have the option of a one-time opt-out of private cannabis retail. Ontario will provide municipalities $40 million over two years to help with the implementation costs of legalization. Funding will be adjusted to ensure no municipality will receive less than $10,000.
They are also setting the minimum age of consumption at 19 and have set a new restriction of growing a maximum of four plants per household.
The Ontario government announced they will launch public consultations with industry stakeholders. This is where they will determine specifics such as market share, pricing and number of licenses. H+K will be monitoring the consultations closely.